Tag Archives: Under the Influence: Musing about Poems and Paintings

Painting Itself Red by Kim Baker

The job of the poet is to render the world – to see it and report it without loss, without perversion. No poet ever talks about feelings. Only sentimental people do. 

~Mark Van Doren 

Everything here is red,
adorning scores of farmhouses, barns, and doors.
The Wandering Moose Café and train station.
The post office and Stage Coach Tavern.

I wonder about a town that paints itself red.
Insinuates a crimson theology in an indomitable land
of evergreen groves, gray stone walls, and
the righteous white of every Congregational Church.
Perhaps the inhabitants strayed away 
from shades of specters and blending in 
when Dr. Dean built Red Mill in 1750.
Maybe they needed cerise to rival the Gold family
or hollyhock to stand out up on Cream Hill.
In some towns, maybe red is a fetish,
the iconic covered bridge representing everything.

I compose on one of the many red benches
spread here along the Housatonic River,
perfect places for poets and other lovers,
searching for an unsentimental shade.
The cardinal gone from the maple tree.
The wheelbarrow waiting for spring.
The brick of my heart.

When she isn’t writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, Kim Baker works to end hunger and violence against women. A poet, playwright, photographer, and NPR essayist, Kim publishes and edits Word Soup, an online poetry journal (currently on hiatus) that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks. Kim’s chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence:  Musings about Poems and Paintings, is available from Finishing Line Press.      

Where the Peaches Are Always Ripe by Kim Baker

And then a knife
lifting skin from a peach
paring away the succulence
as if fruit never bruises
and she lost the rhythm
for just a moment
the aroma taking her back
that summer
his skin
her sublime laughter

And then the knife did what knives will do
continued cutting
even when she was already bleeding
down to her very bone
and she is alone
his heart stopped long ago
long before this peach
this knife

Her children never understood why
she wouldn’t come live with them
preferred to make her own bed
and lie in the fragrance of what was

So that all she can do in this existential minute
is watch the bright red of her life
flow through her fingers
stain her apron
empty her of all she knew
watch it descend

like a staircase to another place
where the peaches are always ripe
and she can swallow them whole
because wasting the skin
the pit of grace
is just too human

When she isn’t writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, Kim works to end violence against women. A poet, playwright, photographer, and NPR essayist, Kim publishes and edits Word Soup, an online poetry journal that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks. Kim’s chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence: Musings about Poems and Paintings, is now available from Finishing Line Press.